12A Cobras claim 2nd 12A premiership in BCC history

12A

H Cameron bowling to 4 slips and 2 gullies v Mont Albert, 25 February 2017

 

On a very hot Sunday on 19 March 2017, the 12A Cobras of 2016/2017 achieved a significant feat in winning the Club’s second 12A ECA title. This title adds to the Club’s solitary previous success by the 12A team of 2013/2014 in their tied grand final game with Deepdene and thereby partially erases the painful memories of the “Cobrawobbles” when the Cobras 12As suffered grand final losses three seasons in a row (2010/11, 2011/12, 2012/13).

This season’s Cobras 12A boys proved to be a strong and disciplined unit, finishing 2nd on the home and away ladder with 6 wins and 3 losses. Their run aggregate of 1530 was second by only 35 runs and they finished third in the number of wickets taken (66) by only by 6 wickets.

They had won a tough semi final game last week with some ease over third placed Nth Balwyn when they chased the target of 152 off 40 overs set by the Northerners in only 30 overs losing 6 wickets in the process.

In the Final, the Cobra 12As faced a surprise opponent in Glen Iris Peel who had achieved a huge upset victory over the powerhouse team, Canterbury, which had been undefeated all season.

We knew the boys had a good bowling attack and were able to hold teams to low scores all season. The highest score posted against the Cobras 12As in the 45 over format was 175 (Canterbury); otherwise, most opposing teams had been confined to 150 runs or less. But we needed to deploy the right bowlers at the right time and plan the assault carefully.

The game – plans and preparation

Given the neutral ground was plagued with a few usual physical characteristics, the coaching panel decided to deploy as many of the Cobra 12A slower bowlers and spinners from the southern (beach end) for the Final. Otherwise, the class pacemen would enjoy the smoother surface coming in from northern end. The last eight overs from the beach end would be by the pick of the pacemen. Also, the boys would change ends every over rather than in the usual 5 over blocks to allow longer spells from each bowler’s preferred end if possible. Our trusty keeper, the “Ice Man”, C Grummitt, was given the job of keeping the 40 overs given our bowling depth and we’d save his right arm pace for next season. He was given a bucket and spade in readiness for keeping from the beach end !

Our preparation saw us focus on the second stage of the game (over 20 – 30) – with 32 degrees predicted, this would be important. The last 10 overs would be led by the chief reliable miser, H Cameron, who had an average of 2 per over for the entire season. We had practiced fielding positions on the Wednesday before, selected preferred slippers and inner and outer fielders for the day – the boys knew they each had a role to play in the field.

 The game – GI Peel 10/99

After losing the toss for the second week in a row, the Peel skipper elected to bat and so our pre-game preparation and strategy would be tested immediately. Unfortunately, the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry – and things went south almost immediately !

Rather than containing the Peel batsmen to 2 per over in the first 15 overs as planned, after 10 overs the Peel boys were racing along at 1/39 (and despite the first over wicket by H Cameron where he induced last week’s Peel hero, P Burns, to push hard to extra cover resulting in an excellent catch by L Van Der Sluys). At 1/1, our boys had gotten off to a great start in the Final, however, the two formidable batsmen for the Peel, R Roy and M Carroll didn’t let that early wicket distract them as they set about building their innings quickly.

The Peel partnership was untroubled by our fine leg spin prodigy, “the Anchorman” O Chambers, who opened the bowling from the beach end and could not hit his usual unplayable length – the neutral ground had claimed its first scalp !

At 1/21 from 8 overs, the first change bowlers were brought on and the “FozP Forrest bowled well having improved his line and length exceptionally well since the Xmas break. Unfortunately, “The RockT Scott had an over he’d rather forget having the umpire restrict his run up to 10 metres and then proceeding to go for 16 from that over ! At 4 an over off 10, our pre – game plans seemed to be unravelling.

But skipper L Smith stuck with the plan and kept faith with his slow charge Foz from the beach end as he held the Peel batters well. The skipper then flicked the ball to medium pacer L Van Der Sluys from the northern end promising the Rock that he’d come back later on – an inspired decision as it turned out.

After going for an early 4, things looked grim; but L Van Der Sluys suddenly took the prize wicket of R Roy (26) with his last ball of his first over. It was a fantastic catch by none other than the Rock, quickly redeeming himself at mid wicket, as R Roy’s skied slog caused the ball to hang in the air for ages and come down from on high. The Rock’s signature foot shuffle was on display whilst waiting for the ball to descend from its zenith – a trademark indicator that he would secure the difficult catch given he’d taken that fantastic deep square leg catch to dismiss the Slugger from Deepdene last season in the Cobra 12Cs “Clash of the Titans” square off to decide the premiers adopting the same foot shuffling strategy.

The Peel’s dangerous R Roy had been dismissed and the Peel had been slightly checked at 2/44 off 11. Our boys needed to make inroads or they faced a huge total.

Another inspired bowling change by the skipper saw M Francis’ medium pace introduced in over 14 from the beach end. After R Roy fell, the Peel run machine, H Peel, had joined forces with M Carroll and the two highest run scorers for the Glen Iris lads were looking at building their innings. But Muzz was up to the challenge and with the first ball of his second over he sent back the best batter in Peel’s line up, M Carroll (18) with a ball that took the top of off stump cartwheeling out of the ground. A great sight ! A huge wicket for Muzz and the Cobra 12A boys. The Peel were suddenly 3/55 from 16 overs. The game was slowly turning our way.

L Van Der Sluys continued his fine spell of medium paced bowling and then immediately snagged the other high quality batsman, H Peel (5), who fell to a cracking leg side catch behind the sticks from the Ice Man – score now 4/58 off 17 and wickets do fall in twos (and threes) after all. With his long, flowing locks shining in the bright sunlight, L Van Der Sluy’s quality work with the ball dismissed two of the Peel’s better batsmen (4 overs 2/9) and the Cobras 12A boys had broken into the Peel’s middle order – the strategy of using him early paid off.

The skipper brought himself on in the 19th over to cause some mayhem with his pace from the northern end – yet another astute decision as he quickly took the wicket of N Colby with his first ball to another good catch behind to the Ice Man and the Peel were in trouble at 5/59 off 19 overs.

J Sharrock was then introduced into the attack from the beach end to bowl his sometimes innocuous slow/mediums. Despite his third ball resulting in him exclaiming “oh no” in the follow through, the leg side pie bamboozled B Mithen (perhaps it was the exclamation ?) and he skied his pull shot to the safe hands of S Short at square leg – the Peel was in disarray at 6/61.

B Oppy was then introduced into the attack from the beach end – again with immediate effect – inducing J Tyquin to spoon a catch to first slip from a nicely turning off spinner (see the action at @BCCCobras twitter feed). The Peel was continuing its decline – now 7/73.

Later, at over 28, the skipper, L Smith, brought on the pace bowlers from both ends to finish the innings. He took the wicket of F Pick with another good catch behind to the Ice Man – score 8/78. The Rock was brought back into the attack to continue his redemption and he bowled three fine maiden overs from the beach end (almost getting a break through) to resurrect his bowling figures for the day. That was more like it from the Rock and just what was needed to avoid a 10 over assault by the Peel.

H Cameron worked hard in the heat from the northern end, bowling tirelessly and accurately and was rewarded with a great caught and bowled in over 33. This followed a fine but unrewarded bowling spell in the semi final against Nth Balwyn where he had numerous chances slip by – a well deserved “Player of the Final Series” was awaiting him at the end of this game.

A run out in the last over of the game by a beautiful piece of cover point fielding by J Sharrock assisted by the skipper, L Smith,  brought the end to the Peel’s innings on 99.

The Cobra 12As did an amazing job to stay in the game and turn things around after the great start the Peel achieved by over 10. They went from 1/39 off 10 overs to all out for 99 in 30 overs – the Cobras 12As reduced the run rate from 4 per over to 2.3 per over and the wickets fell.

Some inspired captaincy by L Smith in deliberately selecting the right bowlers at the right time and setting good fields added pressure and induced wickets constantly through the innings. L Smith, L Van Der Sluys and H Cameron snared 2 wickets, with singles to B Oppy, J Sharrock and Muzz.

It was a low total to chase but a total that was defendable – particularly after the Peel had kept the might of Canterbury at bay (10/94) in the semi final last week before after setting them the low total of 114.

The game – Boroondara Cobras 7/117

After some luncheon refreshment, plenty of Gatorade and some words of encouragement to bat time and not do anything silly, our openers B Oppy and M Francis strode to the wicket confidently to face the opponents led by H Peel – the maestro of last week’s destruction of Canterbury when he snared 5 wickets in a stunning display of medium paced swing bowling.  But at the required run rate of 2.5 per over, the boys were confident of bringing home the silverware given their season to date.

B Oppy had had an inconsistent season making some mid 20s but also some low scores. He’d  worked hard over Xmas and, in particular this week, after his last two dismissals were from edges to the slips. He was rewarded for his hard work by keeping the No 1 spot in the order and he was on a promise to his father to “just stay in”. As an opener he had learned that he had to make good choices and leave a few – a difficult task for the flashy, powerful right handed bat.

Muzz had his great pre Xmas season (helping him finishing 3rd on the team batting aggregate; 2nd on the batting averages) interrupted after Xmas with school cricket and he had been tragically run out in the Semi last week – so he was looking for a long stay at the crease as well.

The openers got us off to a slow but cautious start despite H Peel bowling some great outswingers causing quite a bit of playing and missing. But the runs were coming  – albeit slowly. After 6 overs, our openers had eked out 16 runs and then disaster struck and Muzz (6) was out caught at cover pushing too hard at one from Peel.

S Short then strode to the wicket nervously as this was his first foray at No 3 for the season given his excellent form in the nets over the past week. He’d had a promising season with the bat but had not stayed in long enough to reap the rewards. He looked great in this unfortunately brief innings, smashing an excellent cut shot for 4 causing the Cobras supporters to gasp and applaud loudly – predictable really given the past week. But it was over too soon as Short followed in Muzz’s footsteps with a similar mode of dismissal – out for 4 and the score was 2/22 off 8 overs.

The skipper, L Smith, then joined B Oppy at the wicket with the intention of stabilizing the Cobra 12A’s innings after the early wickets. The skipper had been in huge form all season with the bat, finishing third on the batting aggregate for the competition and third on team averages. The noticeable improvement in the skipper’s batting this season in the Cobras 12As was his temperament. We saw him mature from a flashy and hard hitting explosive batsman scoring quick 20s and 30s (but not getting to 50 or being retired close to 50) into a more patient and responsible batsman resulting in more careful shot selections, longer stays at the crease and increases in his scores into the 40s and achieving a 50. Surely, this situation was unlikely to trouble him.

Their partnership blossomed with some lovely drives off the front and back foot, cut shots through cover and cover point and nudges and deft touches into the leg side causing the strike to turn over and the run chase to be put back on track. It was also helped by some average fielding by the younger Peel players who dropped and mis-fielded some important plays. It was hot work as the mercury climbed over 32 degrees and the unforgiving lush outfield meant there was limited value for shots and running between the wickets the order of this very hot day. The stats would disclose that our boys ran more 1s and 2s on the day than their opponents – an invaluable method of chasing the tricky target.

This timely partnership generated 37 runs and saw the score climb to 59 off 20 overs before L Smith (21) fell to a tired push to the Peel fieldsman at mid off. At 3/59, there was still work to be done and our keeper, the Ice Man, was next in to face the Peel music. The Ice Man had had an inconsistent season with the bat with sprinklings of high scores and a few low scores – could this be his day ? Despite keeping for 40 overs in the very hot conditions which caused the Ice Man to look like Lava Boy at the lunch break, he was keen to take the game on.

He and opener B Oppy (who was playing the innings of his life by this stage) moved the score to 74 before a dubious run out call was made by the independent man at square leg and the Ice Man was sent packing for 4. No doubt if the ump was in position at long off and long on where the Cobra’s supporters were stationed he would have had a better view of it and ruled the appeal for the run out “not out” as the Cobra’s supporters did!

But it was not to be and the tension started to surface. Next came the sometimes impetuous “Foz” P Forrest who strolled to the crease in his distinctive style. Foz had had a stellar year this season winning the team batting average and finishing 5th on the competition aggregate and his heroic innings of last week was fixed firmly in his parents’ minds to build their confidence for this critical stanza in the game. At 4/74 off 24 overs, the run chase was on target but there were some nervous sideways glances from the Cobra supporters.

After flashing at one early in his innings, Foz set about staying in and working the ball around against his impulsive urges to hit the ball hard. Unfortunately, he soon lost his partner, B Oppy (31) after his magnificent innings to a tired lofted shot to deep mid off which did not carry the boundary. The opener’s fine innings was ultimately rewarded with the “Player of the Match” award from the umpires!

The Cobra’s supporters’ nerves were beginning to fray at 5/79, the mercury still hovered around 32 degrees and the coaching staff were recounting Canterbury’s collapse last week against the Peel when it went from 4/75 to 8/78 before collapsing to be all out for 94 – surely lightning could not strike twice on our Cobra 12A boys?

The Anchorman joined Foz and thoughts of their partnership in last week’s semi final came flooding back. The Anchormans’ batting this season had improved in leaps and bounds moving from a slowish under 10 run batsman to a hard hitting, free flowing 10-20 run batsman with huge potential. His innings last week in the semi final was his best this season, anchoring the 6th wicket partnership (49 runs) beautifully.

The boys moved carefully through the 80s and into the 90’s with some luck due to the wilting Peel boys affected by the heat. They gifted us a few extras and the runs kept coming before the Anchorman (4) was given run out but recalled by the fine show of sportsmanship from the Peel’s keeper, Preston Burns, who recalled the Anchorman after fessing up that he had hit the stumps before receiving the ball from the outfield. Obviously overcome by this magnificent gesture from Preston, the Anchorman could not repeat last week’s heroics, flashing at a wide ball – score 6/93.

J Byrne joined Foz at the crease and the victory seemed so near. J Byrne’s recent form in the nets was terrific, smashing the ball hard and he looked in good touch early getting a couple of runs. Surely the boys could end this game with a victory !

Foz then faced what turned out to be the final over from C Gale of the Peel in over 32. At 6/94 Foz hit a nice 2 before executing a trade mark shot – a punch on drive for 4 – to seal the victory.

 The Cobra 12As had won and their supporters went berserk, tears flowed, hands were shook and hugs exchanged. The boys’ enjoyment of the moment was short lived as, surprisingly, the Peel coach wanted to bowl another 3 overs. So Foz enjoyed the offerings finishing on 29 n.o out with L Van Der Sluys (0 no) after J Byrne (2) tried to smash a late yorker from F Pick out of the park in celebration of the Cobra victory when the game was over.

A great game from the 12A Cobra boys and a terrific final series – they proved that runs on the board in finals do not guarantee victory ! They also showed with hard work, improvement, a strong team ethos and careful preparation and planning, a team can defy pre-season expectations and win the flag !

Well done boys.

Joe Forrest

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